Professional Military Education

A Cross-Cultural Survey

by Duraid Jalili (Volume editor) Hubert Annen (Volume editor)
©2019 Edited Collection 234 Pages


This book brings together non-Western viewpoints on military pedagogy and professional military education (PME). In doing so, it seeks to provide a counterbalance to the predominantly European and North American bias found within the research field, as well as generating new insights on Latin American, African and Asian pedagogical commentaries and critiques. The collection contains essays from PME researchers and practitioners across fourteen countries, on subjects including large-scale educational reform, civil-military and academic influences on military pedagogy, internationalisation, cross-cultural collaboration, and interoperability within military education.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • Introduction: The Need for Non-Western Perspectives in the Field of Military Pedagogy
  • Section I Contemporary Large-Scale PME Reform (and Its Discontents)
  • Re-Evaluating the Strategic Contexts for Professional Military Education in the 21st Century1
  • Professional Military Education for the Modern Officer: The Nigerian Experience1
  • Section II Civil-Military Relations and PME Reform
  • The Impact of Political-Military Relations on the Professional Training of the Uruguayan Armed Forces
  • The Role of Military Pedagogy and Civilian Academia in the National Security and Governance of Peru
  • Political Change and Professional Security and Defence Qualifications in Post-Transitional Ecuador (1972–2016)
  • Section III The Civilian Academe and Professional Military Education
  • Military Education and Educational Modernization: The Argentine Case
  • ‘Outsiders Inside’: Experiences of Privately Contracted Educational Staff in the Singapore Armed Forces
  • Creating a Pedagogy for Peace for a New Generation of Military Officers
  • Section IV Balancing Internationalisation and National Requirements
  • The Role of Military Pedagogy in Creating Internationalised Leaders of Character: The Malaysian Way
  • Analysing the Challenges Facing Military Education in Francophone Sub-Saharan African Countries
  • Section V Cross-Cultural Collaboration and Interoperability
  • Preparing Officers and Soldiers for the Increasingly Multi-Lateral Character of Conflict: A Case Study of the African Peace Support Trainers Association
  • Training, Integration and Jointness for Complex Scenarios and Multilateral Conflicts: Experiences in the Education of Argentine Army Officers
  • Cross-Cultural Decision-Making in International Peacekeeping Operations
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Contributor Biographies

Duraid Jalili

Introduction: The Need for Non-Western Perspectives in the Field of Military Pedagogy

Abstract: This chapter outlines the rationale behind the creation of this book dedicated to non-Western perspectives on professional military education, including: the relative dominance of European and North American perspectives in published collections on military pedagogy, the increasing emphasis on international student programmes at military colleges worldwide, and the ambiguous ongoing application of non-military cultural taxonomies in military settings. In addition, it provides an overview of the chapters featured within the book.

Keywords: PME, military education, military pedagogy, intercultural education, international students, education reform, cross-cultural perspectives


There exists a self-evident paradox in the creation of a book that seeks to bring together ‘non-Western’ viewpoints, in the English language by a European publisher. Indeed, it could be argued that the very act of collating non-European and North American perspectives on military pedagogy is built upon a fetishized perception of cultural difference and an assumption that European and North American viewpoints are in some way marked by a broad cultural homogeneity. Although these critiques are valid, there exist equally valid practical and theoretical reasons for such a book.

The first, and most obvious, is that perspectives from non-Western practitioners are radically underrepresented in published collections of military pedagogical studies. Whether it stems from a lack of awareness, access or inclination, this has resulted in a predominantly European and North American bias in the field of military pedagogy. This scenario naturally inhibits the level of attention given to alternative pedagogical commentaries and critiques from a broad range of nations. The risk, as with any in-group formation, is that this trend eventually transmogrifies into a status quo, resulting in a lack of variety in the subject matters, epistemologies and methodologies covered within the field.

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The second, practical reason is that there exists an ongoing expansion of international student programmes across defence and security colleges worldwide, as well as a growing emphasis on professional military educational (PME) collaboration, as evidenced by the increasing array of inter-collegiate exchange programmes, practitioner conferences and working groups, and PME reform organisations such as the Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfP). These trends have both highlighted and increased the need for military educators to enhance their understanding of the pedagogical and cultural contexts of international peers and students. Increasing the breadth of available perspectives on military education also serves to assist practitioners in appraising and interrogating their own pedagogies.

This is not to say that the disparities between Western and non-Western pedagogies are always significant. Indeed, there are broad commonalities between the PME systems of a wide number of different countries. It is difficult to find a global military, for example, that does not implement some system of differentiation between the tactical, operational and strategic levels of education, or that does not modulate the traditional lecture format with some form of practicum or learner-centred activity, such as seminar discussions, personal study time, roleplaying, mentoring or written assignments. Similarly, discussions on wider issues such as the need for academic rigour, the correct balance of critical thinking and warfighting skills and the differences between ‘education’ and ‘training’ are common across the educational institutions of many (if not most) militaries. Such commonalities are, in part, the result of the historical expansion of European, Soviet and Maoist military educational models through colonialization, politico-military alliances and individual protagonists (such as Emil Körner and Emory Upton), as well as the knowledge sharing and benchmarking activities of contemporary epistemic communities of military educators (see, for example, Libel, 2017, pp.208–209).

Despite this, there exists a tendency across a number of militaries and military pedagogical studies to use essentialist cultural concepts or taxonomies in their discourses on foreign PME systems, on training requirements for transnational operations or on the motivations, behaviours and needs of international students, amongst other subjects. This scenario ←10 | 11→presents self-evident issues. The continued use of cultural taxonomies (most notably those of Geert Hofstede, Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner) within the field of PME, for example, may at times belie the inherent limitations of transferring non-military studies to a military context, or serve to reinforce the essentialist anthropological concept that beliefs and/or behaviours are somehow innate (Holmes-Eber et al, 2009, p.5).

In reality, as noted by Selmezki (2007, p.4), “Individuals may have multiple, even conflicting cultural influences that they abide by, negotiate between, or ignore as circumstances dictate.” In the military educational environment, these cultural influences can include ethnic, gender, religious, sexual, socio-economic, strategic, military and service cultures, among others. The existence of “important subsets of attitudes” within each of the military services (Hadley, 1986, pp.71–72), for example, may result in a student feeling more affiliation with a fellow submariner than with someone from their native country. Whether it takes the form of a student placing greater trust in a “leader who is from the same military service” (Lester and Vogelgesang, 2012, p.182) or adapting one’s actions to assimilate within a male-dominated military college (Brown and Syme-Taylor, 2012, p.453), in the field of military education there exists a continual act of self-categorization and cultural prioritization across both students and staff.

In reading and analysing this book of ‘non-Western’ perspectives on military pedagogy, therefore, it is important not to interpret themes as being inherently representative of national mindsets or to construe similarities between chapters as proof of a set of unified cross-cultural concerns. Instead, the chapters within this book are necessarily performative responses to a specific request for non-Western perspectives, by a set of individuals seeking to represent PME activities that are both culturally specific and capable of wider application, through a medium that requires both academic rigour and experiential acumen. This focus on the intentions, biases and concerns of individual authors not only helps to circumvent the use of essentialist frameworks but allows us to better understand how independent perspectives and individual agency may be shaping and informing national pedagogical priorities as well as specific teaching and learning activities.

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Overview of Featured Chapters

As we shall now consider, this miscellany of perspectives has resulted in a number of common themes, including: the historical interplay between civil-military relations and military pedagogy, the impact and challenges of incorporating civilian methods and academics within military education, the effect of culture on the adoption and implementation of (pre-dominantly European) military pedagogies, the importance of increased interoperability and inter-cultural skills, the evolution of the military organisational model and the implementation of new curricula and pedagogies. Although most of the chapters within this book contain at least two to three of these focus areas, to varying degrees, an effort has been made to separate chapters into thematic sections. At the very least, this format provides an additional interpretational linkage through which to read and compare the chapters. At their core, however, the chapters within this book are bound by a common purpose, to assess how and to what extent military education should adapt to shifting contexts.

Two chapters that exemplify this common purpose are those of Major General (Ret.) Dr. Noel Khokhar and Major General (Ret.) Muhammad Inuwa Idris, who both present unique, first-hand accounts of large-scale contemporary PME reform initiatives. In his chapter on the radical educational reforms implemented by the Pakistan Armed Forces since 2005, for example, Major General (Ret.) Dr. Noel Khokhar highlights the pace and extent to which contemporary PME strategies are shaped by politically fluid and asymmetrical conflict scenarios, requiring innovative, agile and operationally adaptable soldiers, with emotional intelligence, technological literacy and cross-cultural skills. Specifically, the chapter demonstrates how military education at the strategic, operational and tactical levels in Pakistan was profoundly influenced by the events of 9/11, the resulting invasion of Afghanistan and formation of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan terrorist organization in 2005. Among other things, this analysis reveals the importance of combining active in-theatre training with specialized technical training, increasing jointness across services and creating a culture that recognizes and incentivizes the achievements of high performing students.

As show in Major General (Ret.) Muhammad Inuwa Idris’ chapter, however, the course of military pedagogical reform is not always a smooth ←12 | 13→one. Assessing the reforms that were implemented at the National Defence Academy (Kaduna) from 2013–2015, the chapter provides a powerful critique on the detrimental impact of over-politicization and careerism of military officers, absence of joint doctrine, broad replication of external curricula, and negligent staff recruitment and retention policies, on the Nigerian military educational system. In order to overcome such deficiencies, it advocates the creation of collaborative links and strategic partnerships between colleges (both nationally and internationally). Perhaps most importantly, the chapter highlights the need to balance long-term projects with immediate gains, as well as safeguarding long-term reforms by generating internal support across a college’s faculty, thus mitigating the structural deficiencies of an educational system in which the longevity of reforms is at the whim of future commandants with their own personal educational visions and career priorities.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (June)
PME Military pedagogy Military training Military reform Defence college Education reform
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 234 pp., 5 fig. b/w, 4 tables.

Biographical notes

Duraid Jalili (Volume editor) Hubert Annen (Volume editor)

Duraid Jalili is a doctoral student at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the U.K. Joint Services Command and Staff College. Hubert Annen is head of Military Psychology and Military Pedagogy Studies at the Swiss Military Academy at ETH Zurich.


Title: Professional Military Education